Eramet, a French mining and metallurgical group, and Électricité de Strasbourg (ÉS), an Alsatian energy company and producer of local renewable energy, have been involved in a partnership since January 2023 within the “Alsace Géothermie Lithium” (Ageli) project for the sustainable recovery of Alsatian geothermal lithium.

The new pilot is now installed at the Rittershoffen power plant, for a minimum period of 6 months, in order to demonstrate the efficiency of the process and to ensure the long-term stability of the active lithium extraction material developed by Eramet processing brines in the geothermal conditions of the Alsatian territory. The first two pilots were installed at the Rittershoffen and Soultz-sous-Forêts power plants in 2020 and 2021 for the first test phases, which proved encouraging.

This innovative direct lithium extraction process, patented by Eramet, is already in place in Centenario, Argentina, where the mining group will soon commence operations at one of the largest lithium deposits in the world.  Industrial production of battery-grade lithium carbonate should begin in Q2 2024 and reach full ramp-up at 24,000 tonnes per year by mid-2025. Eramet will thus become Europe’s leading lithium producer by volume.

In Alsace, the two partners aim to be able to produce at least 10,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year from geothermal waters by the end of the decade.

This French production, carried out by two leading industrial players, would meet the needs of around 250,000 electric vehicle batteries per year. This project, whose final investment decision is expected at the end of 2026, would also make it possible to produce carbon-free geothermal energy and contribute to the economic development and energy transition of the Alsatian territory.